Pakistani advance salary startup Abhi, has raised $2 million for their seed round.
The funding round was led by VEF, an emerging market fintech investor, and financiers included international and local investors including Village Global, Sarmayacar, i2i Ventures, Zayn Capital, and Portman Wills, the co-founder and CTO of Wagestream, a leading financial wellness platform in the UK. Following the investment, VEF holds a minority stake in the company.
Based in Karachi, Abhi is a financial wellness platform catering to the needs of employees between pay cycles. Abhi integrates with corporates to offer their employees salary advance products to reduce their financial stress and avoid expensive payday debt. The product adds no extra costs to the employer while benefiting from higher employee satisfaction and lower churn.
“We believe financial wellness and access to credit are basic human rights, which we aim to bring to all our customers. Our goal is to digitize consumer credit, address pain points in the manual payments process and be there when consumers need us most. Your wage is your right, and we want you to have access to it Abhi (“right now” in Urdu),” said Omair Ansari, one of the co-founders.
In Pakistan most people live from paycheck to paycheck and don’t have access to formal credit, said Ali Ladubhai, the other co-founder of Abhi. The duo saw the utility of an advance salary access product in the market and set out to make it happen.
“Less than 2 million people in Pakistan have access to formal credit. We saw the need for an early wage access product that could allow them to access alternate digital finance together with a knowledge center to educate them about using personal finance responsibly and to their benefit.”
This is VEF’s second fintech investment into the early stage scale opportunity market that is Pakistan and third in the financial wellness space, following similar investments in Brazil and Mexico. VEF liked the distinct model which they believe is extremely well suited to a market like Pakistan, ‘a great risk/reward credit product for all involved and the gateway to building scale consumer financial services business.’
Speaking on the occasion VEF CEO Dave Nangle said: “We are very excited to partner with Omair, Ali and the Abhi Team. This investment allows VEF to continue our mission of improving the financial well-being of the average Pakistani. The traditional pay cycle has tied up employees’ earned income for as long as we can remember, forcing workers to turn to overdraft, payday loans and other punishing products. We hear companies talk about ‘Digital Transformation’ all the time; modernizing the pay cycle is the most fundamental transformation a company can make to its relationship with employees. It is a great scale product, a win for all involved and the cornerstone for a much broader employee financial wellness play.”